Danielle, 2018–19



What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

Before starting as a Science Policy Fellow I worked in public health research. My main area of research was working with migrant and refugee-background communities to understand the impacts of social and economic marginalisation on health behaviours and outcomes, with a particular focus on alcohol and illicit drug use and mental health.

What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?

I am currently working on policy to protect the rights of older Australians and address elder abuse, which is an emerging problem both in Australia and internationally. My team is working together with state and territory governments to develop nationally coordinated responses to elder abuse, including developing a National Plan to address elder abuse and supporting a program of research to better understand the prevalence, drivers and dynamics of abuse.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

One of the main projects I have been working on has been developing a resource that maps the range of work currently underway across Australia to prevent, intervene, respond to and mitigate abuse of older people. My skills in critical thinking and communicating complex information to diverse audiences have been helpful in bringing together a wealth of information in a format that will assist governments to work together to strengthen Australia’s response to elder abuse.

How has the program changed your career aspirations?

Working to improve the health and wellbeing of poor and marginalised populations has been, and continues to be, my career aspiration. Working with the Attorney-General’s Department to develop social and legal policy has given me great insight into different approaches to addressing some of Australia’s most important challenges. I’m still undecided as to what will be next for me, but I feel that there are many different opportunities I can explore to continue working towards my career aspiration.

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

I’ve really enjoyed the variety and fast pace of work in the public service—no two days are ever the same and there is always something new to learn and experience! The collaborative team-based nature of the work is very rewarding; working with colleagues from across different parts of the department, state and territory governments, and community organisations to develop our shared vision has been both challenging and fun.